Musical artist Will.I.Am, also a member of the Black Eyed Peas, is expected to perform in a concert this year in China to encourage American students to study abroad. The hope is that more American students will study specifically in China to balance the large amount of Chinese students who are studying in the U.S. The concert that will feature Will.I.Am and a mix of U.S. and Chinese artists is being organized by the U.S. State Department. Proceeds from the concert will be donated to Americans Studying Abroad, a program for students from low income backgrounds who are seeking opportunities to take part in exchange programs in Southeast Asia. Studying abroad and travelling internationally in general are great ways for people to expand their cultural horizons!

 American students are increasingly studying abroad in nontraditional destinations like Chile and Peru, while U.S. universities are hosting a growing number of students from China, according to a report released Monday.

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Nearly 128,000 Chinese students studied in America in 2009-10, a 30 per cent increase over the previous academic year, the annual study by the Institute of International Education found.

Chinese citizens comprise about 19 per cent of the international students in the U.S., the highest percentage of any country. India and South Korea are next, accounting for 15 per cent and 10 per cent, respectively.

“A global education prepares them to become leaders in their own countries and societies,” Ann Stock, assistant U.S. Secretary of State for Educational and Cultural Affairs, said in a statement.

Meanwhile, more than 260,000 U.S. students studied abroad in 2008-09, a slight dip over the previous year and likely due to the recession, said Peggy Blumenthal, the institute’s executive vice-president. Researchers expect the number to rise again next year, she said.

While most Americans study in Britain, Italy and Spain, those nations have declined in popularity since 2007-08. Countries with the biggest increases include Peru, South Korea and Chile, followed by Argentina and South Africa.

The growing interest in nontraditional destinations is partly because students with a wider variety of majors are deciding to travel, Blumenthal said.

Public health majors can go to South Africa to learn about the AIDS crisis, while business majors could travel to China and environmental majors might study in South America, Blumenthal said. Some of those countries are appealing because of their lower cost of living, she noted.

Also, the fact that English is more widely spoken makes it easier for Americans to study in more places, said Allan E. Goodman, the institute’s president and CEO.

“Ten or 15 years ago, you couldn’t go to France or Germany unless you were fluent,” Goodman said. “English has opened the world up.”

The U.S. hosts more international students than any other country — 691,000 last year, up 26 per cent in the past decade — which experts say shows the appeal of the higher education model here.

Most foreign students study business and management, followed by engineering, physical and life sciences, and math and computer science.

Overall, they contribute nearly $20 billion to the U.S. economy through tuition, room and board, and other expenses, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce.

The top U.S. institutions hosting international students — with more than 7,000 each in the 2009-10 academic year — were the University of Southern California, University of Illinois and New York University.

About 9 per cent of the freshman class at Bryn Mawr College is from China, an increase from 6 per cent last year, said Jenny Rickard, the school’s chief enrolment and communications officer.

Rickard travelled to China last fall to promote the elite women’s college near Philadelphia. She said having a diverse student body “enriches the educational opportunities we are able to provide.”

“It really helps us grow as an institution as well,” Rickard said. “By bringing in different perspectives, you learn a lot about yourself.”

The Institute of International Education is a New York-based non-profit whose Open Doors 2010 report was produced with support from the U.S. State Department’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.

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By Kathy Matheson, opendoors

china study abroadKEARNEY, Neb. — The University of Nebraska at Kearney is offering a new study-abroad program this year. Destination: China.

Nine UNK students left for China Thursday for the program, “UNK Semester Abroad,” and return Dec. 13.

John Vieth, of Grand Island, Neb., a junior at UNK studying travel and tourism, said, “Once you get out of college, you don’t have as much time to go to places like China. And not too many people can say they lived in China for four months.”

He will attend Hebei Normal University in Shijiazhuang, taking a Chinese-language course and UNK global media literacy and international studies courses.

“UNK Semester Abroad” is designed to cost roughly the same amount of money as a semester at UNK, said Ann Marie Park, coordinator for UNK’s study-abroad programs. The program is open to UNK students only.

The program is geared toward juniors in college. The next program will be offered in the spring of 2012 and will probably be to somewhere in Latin America.

China was chosen as the first destination because it is considered “one of the powerhouses of the future,” Park said.

“China is going to play a huge, pivotal role in all business dealings,” Park said. “It really gives them (students) an advantage. It doesn’t matter what future, having had this experience, having taken one semester of Chinese, with their exposure traveling around the country, they’re really going to have a leg up.”

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Vieth wants to go into hotel management in the United States. He said having a better international understanding is important for anyone studying travel and tourism, even if that person plans to be based in the United States.

He will participate in five tours to cities in China. The tours to Beijing, Xian, Baiyang, Shandong and Shangxi will last two to four days each.

He will travel with the group of UNK students most of the time, in a structured environment.

“You can only be so immersed when you don’t speak Chinese,” Vieth said.

As part of another program, Sam Schneider of Grand Island, an economics and political science major at UNK, traveled to the Netherlands this week and will stay until Dec. 17.

Because he was traveling to a European country, he was hoping for a deeper immersion in the Netherlands culture.

“I think total immersion is definitely the goal with any program,” Schneider said. “But it depends on where you’re going. If I was going to be in an Asian country, there might be more of a culture shock.”

Schneider is one of 200 foreign students accepted to the Honors College of Utrecht University in Middelburg, Netherlands, in the Roosevelt Academy Exchange program. Four women from UNK also were accepted to that college.

Schneider hopes to work in government someday. He said one reason he wants to study abroad is to better understand how foreign governments work.

“You always hear, ‘The world’s only getting smaller,’ and that’s definitely true,” Schneider said. “Before anyone enters the work force or grad school, it’s important that people have that outside awareness of what’s going on, not just nationally, but internationally.”

The nice thing about the program Vieth is involved with, Park said, is that the students can take UNK classes instead of classes that would have to transfer.

All of the courses Vieth takes in China will be taught in English, except for the Chinese language course.

Park said studying abroad not only allows students to better understand foreign cultures but also prepares students for life.

“Tomorrow, we’re all going to have to work together at some point,” Park said. “Whether you’re going into business or medicine, you’re going to have international dealings. You’re going to have to know how to deal with diversity and how to step outside of your comfort zone and function in a society where there are a lot of uncertainties.”

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(By Ellen Hirst WORLD-HERALD NEWS SERVICE)

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